Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clean eating: What is it? Can I do it? (Can you?)

Maybe you CAN "teach an old dog new tricks."
After decades of step classes, Jazzercize, ab crunches, "power" classes, daily exercise walks and countless gym visits, I'm finally taking the plunge to work with a personal trainer. Beginning tomorrow, I embark on a six-month program to improve mobility and flexibility, reduce body fat while building muscle, and balance my body so that I end up with better posture and greater strength.
Among the papers that the trainer gave me is some info about CLEAN EATING, a term that I somehow have heard very little about. 
But there's a magazine called Clean Eating, which I vaguely recall someone mentioning to me a few weeks ago. She recommended that I look into it, because it's got lots of good, healthy-foodie principles. Here's a quote from their mission statement (though that's not what they call it): "In every way, clean eating is all about consuming whole food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. Taking a creative yet doable approach to cooking, you’ll find it easy to enhance the natural flavors of any meal without compromising the integrity of your food."
That sounds great, although I have to say that the literature my trainer handed me sounded way less appealing due to a very restrictive eating plan. I'm good with keeping processed foods to a minimum, but the trainer's diet reduced carbohydrates almost to zero, even restricting the amount and type of fruit you can have. "No carbs after 6 PM" was also on the list, and since we don't eat dinner until after 6, that was not going to fly in my household. No alcohol, either -- again, not likely that I'm going to adhere to that and give up my wine, and occasional cocktails (although I try to minimize those -- too much sugar).
Here's a less restrictive take on CLEAN EATING, from a website called The Gracious Pantry.
  1. Eat  Lots Of Plants – Eat food that is straight from nature. (Some people say “as close to the way nature made it as possible”. But I think that leaves too much wiggle room – in my humble opinion) Eat mostly foods that are off a tree, bush, plant or vine, and you’ve pretty much got it covered. The idea is to stay away from anything that humans (food corporations) have altered in any way.
  2. Include Meats - Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher. Don’t buy pre-packaged meat products because you never know what’s in them. When possible, buy whole meats and grind them yourself. You’d be surprised what’s in ground turkey meat! You can also select a few turkey breasts and ask that the butcher grind them for you. Many butchers are more than willing to accommodate.
  3. Enjoy Grains - Eat grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “glue”. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat and other whole grains.(For a list of foods to stock your pantry with, check out this list.)
  4. Read Labels I don’t know how many breads I’ve picked up at the store that say they are whole grain. But when I take a look at the ingredient list, white flour is the second ingredient after whole wheat flour!
  5. Eat Fewer Ingredients. Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list. And be sure you recognize each and every ingredient. If you find a “mystery ingredient” such as “spices”, contact the company! Ask them what they consider to be spices. If it’s anything other than honest-to-goodness herbs and spices, avoid it! And remember, if you can’t pronounce it, it probably shouldn’t go into your body.
  6. Eat 5-6 small meals per day. This may seem like a lot at first. But remember, you are eating smaller portions. If you really have a hard time with this, prepare your regular three meals and a snack for the day, and divide lunch and dinner in half. You’ve instantly got 6 small meals! 
I'll blog about my progress with the trainer, as well as what kind of dietary changes he can persuade me to make. :-)


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